The House Agriculture Committee chairman praised the $3.9 billion drought-relief program Saturday and urged Democrats to set the agenda for a major 1990 farm bill.

"The aid that will be provided will give farmers hope and at least a portion of the financial resources they need to try again next year," Rep. E. "Kika" de la Garza, D-Texas, said in the Democratic response to President Reagan's weekly radio address.The chairman took issue with neither Reagan nor congressional Republicans but instead strongly praised lawmakers for fashioning a 1985 farm program and related measures that have "helped the farmer survive difficult times."

"But we cannot legislate weather, so the devastating drought of 1988 has set us back, at least temporarily," de la Garza said. He praised the relief bill signed Thursday by Reagan as one that would keep many farmers going, even though "we simply do not have the money to cover all losses."